The below letter was sent to the Honorable Ben Allen, Henry Stern and Scott Wiener.
Awhile back, I was invited by the Los Angeles County Jewish Federation to monitor and audit an online seminar. Senator Ben Allen participated.
To make a long story short, it reminded me that there are thousands of very responsible Jewish landlords. Many are observant Orthodox Jews who provide their rental units to others at their Synagogue. These tenants are treated like family. The rental units and apartments are within walking distance of the Synagogue.
And yet, on May 30, 2020, Black Lives Matter and several other groups elected to target Jewish neighborhoods for looting, arson, vandalism and destruction. They commenced their march at the intersection of Third and Fairfax; however, they were not successful at The Grove because Rick Caruso had a sufficient armed security contingent. [Hard time doing that with gun control!]
As they worked the Westside, this group found Jewish schools and Synagogues that they defaced, vandalized and impregnated with Nazi signs!
So … I began to think about my family’s own history. My father and mother came from the North shore of Boston. My father enlisted and was in the Pacific Theater. He had no rank, but carried a rifle. Regretfully, he sustained an injury and perhaps he was fortunate because the Japanese bullet entered his leg and exited his foot. He had medical difficulties and returned to recover in San Diego. He was prepared to return to some unknown island approaching Japan when the nuclear “option” was exercised and within days, the war was terminated.
He returned home and made a new home in Los Angeles. He got a job as a shipping clerk for a Jewish family who owned a very large women’s shoe factory and because my father was fluent in Spanish, Yiddish, German, Hebrew and Russian – he enjoyed some level of success. Other Jews were rejected from the universities as they had quotas.
Yes, there were restricted deeds. Jews were redlined and segregated. At some point, they migrated from East Los Angeles to the Westside, the Fairfax area, Cheviot Hills, Pico/Robertson and Rancho Park.
So, when these returning Jewish soldiers were rejected at the universities, they took up the business of being trash haulers, collecting metal scrap – calling themselves raw iron companies. Many became plumbers, electricians, contractors and builders.
Yes, many built in Ladera Heights, Windsor Hills, Baldwin Hills and so many other apartment complexes. Over time, their children and grandchildren inherited the units. Yet, today, so many of my Jewish political friends sit at the Passover table and recall the bondage and slavery of the Jews in Egypt, but so quickly forget how their newly adopted policies – AB 1482, AB 828, AB 1436 and so many others – are designed to injure and disrespect the responsible, considerate Jewish landlord.
60% of Californians told Michael Weinstein at the AIDS Foundation that they were opposed to local rent control and certainly opposed to any situation where a vacant unit could be controlled and exploited by a small handful of rent control bureaucrats.
Yes, those Jewish war veterans who returned, eventually underwrote the opportunity for their children and grandchildren to become prominent land use planners, university professors, accountants, physicians, scientists and of course, attorneys. Some even became successful politicians.
So, these Jewish landlords do not demand or require any “special treatment” – they just want fairness. When a rental unit becomes vacant, allow the unit to be re-rented at prevailing market rates. Promote and encourage the tenants to pay for water, sewage and trash. It’s true – Jews don’t like to register. Rental units should not be registered. Create a system of rent vouchers for rent burdened tenants and others! [AOA has already collected over 88,000 signatures demanding vouchers, so maybe the lawmakers did listen?]
Earthquake retrofit, mandated health and safety protocols such as carbon monoxide/smoke alarms and fortification of balconies and staircases need to be addressed such that the tenant contributes at least half. Be well, healthy and safe.
Michael Millman is an Attorney and a Mar Vista activist and can be reached at (310) 477-1201.